Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday delivered on the Aam Aadmi Party's poll promise by announcing 20 kilo litres of free water a month to all metered households. The Congress questioned the move, saying Kejriwal should ensure that every citizen of Delhi gets 700 litres of free water per day.
The government's decision, however, came with a rider that those consuming over this limit will have to pay as per tariff, enhanced by 10 percent, effective Jan 1.
The promise of 700 litres of free water to every Delhi household was made in the AAP poll manifesto.
The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) made the announcement after a meeting with Kejriwal at his private house in Ghaziabad near Delhi.
The cost of providing the free water would be borne by the DJB for the first three months.
Though Jal Board member Sandeep Tanwar earlier said 700 litres of water will be given to each and every household that has regular connections, in the final calculations Monday, the ruling party and board officials arrived at the figure of 667 litres per day or 20 kilo litres a month.
Kejriwal did not attend office as he was taken ill but had a full working day at home as many party workers and people gathered outside with their various demands.
The Congress, which is offering support to the minority AAP government, questioned the AAP's free water move, saying that since half of Delhi does not get water at all, Kejriwal should ensure that these households get water first.
"He had promised that all citizens of Delhi would get free water. But around 50 percent of Delhi does not get water at all. He should ensure that every citizen of Delhi gets free 700 litres of water per day," Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit told reporters.
In another decision, the AAP government, which had assured to look into the problems of auto-rickshaw drivers, new Transport Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj decided to issue 5,500 inter-state permits for them to commute within the National Capital Region territory.
The Delhi government also announced a Rs.1 crore compensation to the family of the 48-year-old excise department constable who died after being attacked by bootleggers.
Constable Vinod Kumar died of his injuries in a hospital after being assaulted by a group of bootleggers on the night of Dec 27 in a jungle in Ghitorni village near Vasant Kunj area of south Delhi.
Even as the new government got down to work, there were some initial glitches.
Upset at not being allowed entry into the Delhi Secretariat, journalists boycotted a press conference by new Health Minister Satyendra Jain.
Later, senior AAP leader and Urban Development Minister Manish Sisodia - himself a former journalist - assured them that the government would not do anything which would end transparency in its functioning.
The AAP also gave a glimpse of its ambitions beyond Delhi.
Party leader Kumar Vishwas, who said he will take on Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi in the Lok Sabha polls, added that the rookie party is now focusing on the Haryana assembly polls next year where it would project party ideologue Yogendra Yadav as its chief ministerial candidate.
The Congress downplayed his remark. "Anyone can contest from Amethi. Whoever will contest against Rahul Gandhi, will lose," Dikshit said.